Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It Snowed Last Night

Today's Pictures:
1.    A building down the street with beautiful art panels on the walls
2.     Christ the Saviour Church
3.     A delicous treat I buy from the corner grocery store (love the 3 raisins - always three)
I woke up this morning to see it had snowed during the night. It is comforting to know that drivers here in Uralsk forget how to drive in the snow just like they do in Toronto, there were lots of little accidents on the roads this morning.

I misunderstood the time I was to go to the babyhouse, so I didn't get as long as normal. It was so cute to see MLM, when he saw me he came running to me and the first thing he did was show me his finger which has a banged up fingernail. Now, I'd seen that on Friday, but I guess he forgot he'd told me LOL. The nurse said he it wasn't new, and I said I had seen it on Friday, but I was so very happy that he wants me to know that he needs comfort. I had noticed the first few days we were bonding, that if he bumped his head, and I mean a good knock, he'd laugh and go on as if nothing happened. It is good that he knows one of my jobs is to comfort him when he is hurt.
My translator and I weren't sure where we were suppose to go for our bonding today. We first went back to the music room, but the door was locked. So we returned up to MLM rooms, there is a little playroom beside the big play room and that is were we played today. He still likes to sit on my knee and be silly. He loves to drink his juice, but he barely drank any today, but he does like to have it in his hand. Actually as soon as he has greeted me with tons of hugs and pats on my face, he goes down and starts to open my knapsack to find his juice and his treats.
I brought some soft balls for him to play with this morning. While we were waiting for my translator to find where we were suppose to go, we stood in the hall and he found the balls. He immediately began to try to bounce and throw the ball, yah, not such a good idea while standing in the hallway. We also looked outside into the courtyard at the snow. MLM knows what the snow is because he pretended to be cold and pretended to shiver and threw himself into my arms for a hug. He is cute, really cute.
In the time we had he climbed in my lap, played a game of going up and down (I'm working on developing that language) and he actually called to my translator by name this morning. Her name is Dana, so it is a nice easy name to say. I'm sorry to say he wanted her attention so he could stick his tongue out at her. I'll add appropriate ways to interact with adults to the list of things I need to teach him. It is funny that he was willing to call out to Dana, because he won't go to her at all. At one point, he was moving around a bit and Dana came closer to MLM and I (unfortunately to tell me it was time to go), as soon as Dana approached he darted back to me. I just love how he is making such a close connection to me.
I also love how neat and tidy MLM is. Everyday when he gets his juice out of the ziplock bag that I bring it in, he takes off the cap and carefully puts the cap back into the ziplock bag and puts the bag back into my knapsack. Do you think he'll maintain these wonderful skills when I bring him home??????
I had planned to go for a walk after my lunch today, but it was raining, so instead I staying in my apartment, watched tv and knitted. I do have a bit of a cold, and my voice sounds a bit froggy, so staying home was probably a good idea. Tomorrow is suppose to be dryer, but colder. Right now there is a good wind blowing outside. I know what time I need to be out to for the baby house tomorrow, my translator and I confirmed it about 4 times (Poor lady, she stood on a street corner waiting for us to pick her up for the 30 or so minutes).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Can they recall the Weather Forecast

Today has been a beautiful partly cloudy day and not that cold, but I just saw on-line that for the next three days the weather is going to get COLD.
Tomorrow is suppose to be icy with a low of -6, but Wednesday has a low of -18 and Thursday a low of -22, at least the high is suppose to be -13. All these temperatures are measured in Celcius, or teeth chattering.
I've had two really quiet days, knitting and reading in my apartment. I've also been down with a cold, but I must say that ColdFX does seem to help a lot and I don't think this cold is as bad as it could be.
I got up just after 6 a.m my time this morning as I wanted to call some people back home. I absolutely love Skype, everyone feels so close, I don't feel like I'm half-way around the world. Oh, and it was uber cute having little Alex saying 'Bye Michele, bye Michele" He actually talked to me on the phone and told me all about going to the pet store and all the animals he'd seen. Good thing Loretta was there to translate, because I missed most of that conversation.
Hopefully things are back to normal tomorrow and I get to go see MLM.
Have a nice day everyone,

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Totally Off Topic

Okay, this post is just for Christine.
The last time I got my hair done it was November 11th and Chris and I were talking war movies. For the life of me I couldn't remember the title of my favourite tear jerker WWII movie. Well,
The Captive Heart (1946) starring Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson.
Here's what IMDB says is the plot of the movie:
After the evacuation at Dunkirk, June 1940, some thousands of British prisoners are sent to German P.O.W. camps. One such group includes "Capt. Geoffrey Mitchell," a concentration-camp escapee who assumed the identity of a dead British officer. To avoid exposure, "Mitchell" must correspond with the dead man's estranged wife Celia. But eventual exposure seems certain, and the men must find a way to get him out. If he reaches England, though, what will his reception be?
Thanks Saturday Night at the Movies and Elwy Yost.
As I said this post is totally off topic,

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Roller Coaster of a Day

During the night and in the early morning we got a ton of rain, you cannot imagine the lake sized puddles that have sprung up all over the place. I actually had to get up to investigate the sound of the rain as it was so different to what I'm use to. But J, I wasn't worried about the basement flooding LOL!
Today was our first day at the newly renovated baby house and it was suppose to be the day that MLM saw the international doctor.
The baby house was so nice and shiny and you could smell the fresh paint. I was there with L and A and M and their new son and MLM. We had a nice little visit. A and L's son needs to be on the move at all times, MLM still wants lots of cuddling and needs more time to get comfortable before he becomes so active. It was a short visit, but very sweet. Afterwards L and I returned the boys to their new home. Wow they have one of those neat climbers in the room and lots of neat wooden toys. Neither of the boys were too happy with the idea of L and I leaving them, MLM never likes saying goodbye, and I think L's son knew that today was a little different for them.
While we were playing with the boys, I asked A and L's translator if she knew when I would be seeing the International doctor. Suddenly it seemed that there had been some misinformation and my coordinator had been told that my child did not need to be seen by the doctor. I knew this wasn't true, but it was hard to explain through the interpreter. They kept asking if I'd filled in the paper. Hello, this is international adoption, I've filled in TONS of paperwork. But yes, I'd done everything I'd been asked to fill in for the sponsorship of my child. But it seemed that it wasn't going to happen today. I was upset as it meant I'd have to wait for the doctor to come back and who knows how long that will be.
I was upset when I got back to the apartment, but then decided it couldn't be helped. I decided to go for a walk to help put things into perspective. MLM is doing wonderfully with me, we are finally at the renovated baby house and I should get a really room for bonding instead of a hallway, the afternoon was shaping up to be nice and sunny, and I'm in Kazakhstan a place and experience I've been dreaming of for 3 years. I decided that this wasn't even a set back just a little bump in the road. And then I went into a shop that sells yarn and I bought something.
As the evening turned out to be really nice, L asked me if I wanted to go for a walk with them. Absolutely I responded and we walked to the Atrium, and then back along one of the side streets. L showed me a store with beautiful traditional Kazakh crafts, I'll need to go back and investigate later. As we walked back to my apartment my cell phone rang, it was my coordinator, she'd arranged for the International doctor to see MLM. We raced back to my apartment and I went back to the Baby house.
The doctor is a lovely lady who speaks English. She examined MLM and reviewed his records and spoke to MLM's doctor. She wrote up the report and will send it off. Like me she has no major concerns for MLM and said how happy he seems to be with me already. So thanks to my coordinator for saving the day and making it all come right.
As I said it was a roller coaster of a day. Hope yours has been just as exciting!
And getting to spend time with MLM twice in the same day is a wonderful thing.
Okay, it is bed time for me now. Hope you enjoy the rest of your day.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Moving Day at the Baby House

Today was the LONG promised day that the children are moving back to Baby House 1. Until a few years ago there were 2 baby houses in Uralsk, and we called them Baby House 1 and Baby House 2. During the summer of 2009 Baby House 2 was closed as between the two houses there were just over 100 children. Each house was actually set up to serve the needs of nearly 200 children. Why so few children, because most had been adopted, isn't that the nicest thing to know!
Back in about March of this year, all the children were moved from Baby House 1 back to Baby House 2 so that Baby House 1 could be renovated. Back in October, when L and A arrived, they were told that any day they would be moving back to Baby House 1. Well it finally happened today.
We we arrived at the house it was very busy. There were men (something you don't see a lot at the baby house) all over the place. Boxes were being filled, cribs dismantled, complete organized chaos. I've never seen so many people in the house, I think everyone who works there was there today.
I was very luckily that I was able to visit with MLM for 20 minutes. We weren't able to go to our usual place in the hall as the hall was quickly being filled with things coming out of the offices. I learned tonight that I got to have my visit because my driver drove the doctors and all their records to the other baby house. I have to say that the driver I have is one of the nicest men. He and his wife had a baby about 4 weeks ago, he is one very proud papa. I haven't seen a photo as it is tradition not to take a picture until the baby is over 40 days old, but this morning he played a recording of her crying that is on his mobile phone.
It was so nice to spend time with MLM. I want to take some photos so I could show him when he is older what one of his early homes was like, but the staff said no. I understand they are very stressed today, so much to do and keep all the children safe at the same time. But as we sat in the cubby room I tried to take some photos of MLM, he decided that he rather be the one taking pictures, so we took some pictures of where we sat. Clandestine photos, hey the kid did it, what can I do???
I gave him his juice and 1/2 cookie, but we couldn't play as there was no room, and I didn't want to get to much in the way. I really feel for all those ladies today, I hope it went well. When he finished his snack I brought him back into his playroom, he does not like saying good bye. He clung to my neck and made such a sad sound. Staff actually have to take him from me as he is so insistent on staying with me. That is a good sign but leaving him when he is crying so hard is difficult. I'm am even more grateful that Kathryn has always loved her group home and enters it joyfully everytime we return, to have her be unhappy would break my heart.
It is a miserable rainy day here today, so I spent the afternoon knitting and watching Real Zone on satellite. I'm such a sucker for tv. Oh, yesterday morning, I put the tv on as I was ready too early for my visit to the baby house and discovered Diva International was showing an episode of Foyle's War I'd never seen, I hope it repeats at a time I'm home.
Tomorrow the International Doctor is coming to see MLM. She will write the report for Immigration purposes. Because she is coming I will definitely get to see MLM, otherwise I would suspect they would say no visits as they get settled. I'm so lucky she was able to get here this week, next week there is a big meeting in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan and there will be limited seats available to fly around the country. The doctor is flying here from Almaty and will only be here for the day. It is a 3 and 1/2 hour flight each way, I know I pay for her to come, but it is so wonderful to have access to such wonderful people. L and A said I will really like her as they met her when they were in Almaty a number of years ago.
I'm going to try and post the photos that MLM took today in another post as the internet seems to be holding.
Have a wonderful Thursday, and to all my American family and friends - a most Happy Thanksgiving to you all.


Yesterday I had just completed my post when I discovered that I had lost the internet quite a while before, and therefore nothing was saved. Hopefully I can remember.
When we arrvied at the baby house and to MLM's room yesterday we could hear music and singing. My translator said that they were practicing for the New Year celebration, and the song was a song about the New Year.
We peeked into the MLM playroom and all the children were sitting on chairs along wall of the room, while one of the nurses taught 4 of the children the dance that goes with the song. MLM was watching the dancing with a very anxious and scared look on his face. He is a nervous little guy. Then he saw me and he started across the room, as he got closer I bent down to him and he raced towards me a smile blossoming on his face. I know he was delighted to see me.
We played in the hallway behind this little desk that MLM and I have claimed as ours. As we played (it is important to MLM that I sit in a chair and that he sits on my lap - just like Kathryn there are rules and I must follow them, LOL), one of the managers of the baby house, a really lovely lady, stopped to say hello to MLM and I. In fact she did say 'hello, how are you?'. She turned to my translator and said that everyone is so happy that MLM has found his Mama because he laughs now and is full of joy. The manager then started to go into MLM room as my translator told me what she had said, I said to her 'thank you' in Russian. The manager stopped at the door of the area and said Nyet Splasiba - pointing at herself (no thank you), she pointed to me and said what translates to Thank you Mamma, thank you for MLM.' I was moved to tears, it was such a nice thing to say.
I also saw another lady who I'd met at the airport the morning I arrived here in Uralsk. She is also trying to adopt, but she has some concerns about her child. I feel so lucky that I don't have those concerns about MLM.
Later as we played, and keep in mind, I'm in a hallway with people coming and going and I'm trying to entertain a 2 year old where we cannot run, throw things or make much noise - a wee bit stressful, MLM discovered by watch. I have one of those carbinar watches that I usually have attached to my purse, but as I feel that I'm all over the place in the hall, I decided yesterday not to bring my purse and just attached the watch to a belt loop. MLM tried to pull the watch off my pants, luckily he was unsuccessful, but then he realized that he was near my tummy, and he did the cutest thing, he tickled my tummy. The look of pure joy on his face as he tickled me says how much he enjoys that interaction. Of course I reacted in a big way to the tickles and he did it once more and then he pulled up his shirt. Who needs a ton of toys when you can have someone tickle your tummy.
After my visit, I went for a long walk as it was a beautiful afternoon. I walked from my apartment to the Puskin Hotel and back to my apartment. I took my camera, but I didn't take a single photo. I was just taking it all in. I'll try to remember to actually take photos for myself on another day.
And that is more or less what I would have posted yesterday IF I'd been able to get the internet to stay connected.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Poor Internet Connections

I've had a really hard time for the past 24 hours getting a good internet connection.
Yesterday was a great day for our visit. He is so anxious looking when he is in his room, but MLM blossoms into this wide happy grin the second he sees me.
I got an "optimistic" responsce from U of MInn this morning, the final piece I need to know about MLM health. In my heart I knew he was going to be fine, but it is so nice to have it confirmed.
I hope I can get a better internet connection later today and I'll post more.
Good night everyone at home,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Must Look Like a Native

When I left my apartment this morning to go to the baby house I was so surprised to find that it was sort of raining, sort of snowing, that miserable weather that's like freezing rain. To be blunt it wasn't a nice day. I was disappointed as I'd hoped to take MLM outside for a bit of our time together.

MLM was very happy to see me today. His favourite caregiver was working today. She showed me that he was wearing the clothes I'd brought and purchased for him. MLM was wearing underpants. Yes, he is being toilet trained!!!! They start I think when they are around a year and a half. He only needs a diaper for sleeping and when he goes outside. He was very happy to see me and we went off to our little space to visit.
It is called bonding time, and this is the reason I chose to come to Kazakhstan. Everyday I get a specific amount of time to spend with him while the rest of his routine continues. It certainly isn't the easiest of methods of international adoption, but it does allow MLM and I to slowly get to know each other.
Can you guess what his favourite thing is that I bring each day? Oh, I bet anyone with a 2 year old can guess, it's my camera. Just before I left Canada I bought myself a new Samsung ST 600. This is the camera that has an LCD display on the front of the camera as well as on the back. I knew I'd be taking a lot of pictures by myself, so I thought this would be a great way to 'see' what I was actually photographing. To turn on the front display you just tap the display screen, well, MLM very quickly has learned to tap the camera, he's also learned how to turn the camera off, and how to scroll through the pictures. He's not that pleased that I won't let him actually have the camera. I only got the chance to take 1 photo today, as I had to keep putting the camera away.
After my visit, I was driven back to my apartment. My apartment is in a wonderful part of town with tons of little shops all around. And Stella, I did find a store that sells yarn. I have a dozen projects with me, but, well you know me, it won't be long before I'm over there checking it all out.
Today I decided to take a look at the stationary store (Staples like) that is one block off the main street. I'd been there on Sunday with L and A and M, but it isn't open on Sunday. Well today I got there just before noon and it wasn't open. I think they'd just changed their hours to the winter hours, (the sign with snowflakes was my biggest clue) but then again, I'm just guessing as I don't read Russian to well. Anyway, a man standing in front of the store started to speak to me. I just gave a shrug as if to say 'what can you do' and I walked away.
Next I went to the local grocery store where they sell the most delicous prepared food. Today I bought 5 litres of water, 2 cheese blinis, a stuffed chicken thigh and a dellicious sweet raisin/cheese mini-pie. All that came to about 5 dollars Canadian. (This is the same store that makes stuffed peppers and the mantee I had the other day, I might not do much cooking while I'm here.)
As I left the store, a woman on the sidewalk starting asking me questions. Again I gave my shrug and said "nyet" and off I went to cross the street. I guess I look like I belong here, or as Anna would say, I'm full of useless information and the man and woman could just sense it LOL.
Have a great day everyone, I hear that it is one of those icky rainy days at home too, so I'm totally not missing anything. It is already pitched black here and it is only 6:30. I'm having the hardest time not to go to sleep already. I think I'll go and see if I can find the Cake Boss on tv, CIAO

Monday, November 22, 2010

Good Monday Morning

These pictures were taking at the park on Tuesday the 16th. I won't be posting any photos of MLM as he isn't my son, and it would be inappropriate to do so. We'll have to wait until he is really my son for those to be posted.

When I arrived at the baby house today, I went into MLM's area to collect him. From the hallway you enter an L shaped area with a table for staff and a fridge and cupboards for the children's clothing. A door in this room leads into the play/eating room.

The play/eating room is a lovely room with large ceiling to waist height windows on both the east side and the west side. When I opened the door the children in the room, all between 1 and 1/2 and 3 years of age saw me and started saying 'MLM's momma' and they looked around for MLM. He wasn't in the room, he was still in the sleeping room which is further inside.

One little girl went running into the room saying "MLM, your mamma, your mamma." She took MLM and more or less dragged him into the play room. Ah, the smile he gave me when he saw me. The little girl didn't let go of his hand. She was pulling him and he was anxious to get to me so he began to pull away from her and towards me. In the process the two of them almost went through another child (oops).

As soon as he was free of the little girl (thanks to one of the nurses), he came running and put his arms up to get a hug. I don't think there is a better feeling in the world than a pair of little arms wrapped around your neck in welcome.

MLM and I went out into the hallway for our bonding time. He drank his milk - okay, MLM has discovered when using a sippy cup that if you suck really hard and then open your mouth the cup makes a neat noise. He REALLY likes that and laughs and laughs.

He is learning a lot incredibly quickly. I bring his snacks in snack size ziplock bags. Already he knows where in my knapsack to find the ziplock bag. He also knows how to open the bag. Now, he doesn't quite have the strength in his little fingers to break the seal, but he tries with each bag. With his milk I give him a Farley cookie, 1/2 a banana and 1/4 of an apple. (Not long after I leave he has his lunch, so I don't want to totally over feed him as I do want him to eat his lunch too).

When I first gave him the sippy cup on Thursday last week, he didn't know how to suck. I'd played with the cup to see how to make the liquid come out. It drips if you turn it upside down, and the liquid will flow if you put pressure on the cup. So on Thursday, I would put pressure on the cup, and then relax it. It took MLM maybe 40 minutes to drink the 1/2 cup of milk. Today, sucking on his own, it only took him  less than 10 minutes. Of course, we did have to have many breaks to both make the cup make that funny noise and to make the 'AHHHHH" sound that I taught him. You cannot drink a nice cup of milk without saying 'ahhhh'.

When our visit time was over, oh my poor little man began to cry and cry. He tried to stop me from going into his L shaped hallway. I had to take off his shoes and his jacket (it is much cooler in hallway where we visit than in the baby room) he struggled to keep that jacket on with all his might.

After I took off his jacket, I picked him up to say goodbye. MLM put his hands on my cheeks and looked at me, I told him it was time to go back to his room, and I said "Paka, paka" (goodbye), he threw his arms around my neck and cried. My translator and I kept telling him that I would see him tomorrow. Then we took him into his play room, It breaks my heart to see him cry like that. 

After I returned to my apartment, I went out to purchase groceries. I've been going to a little supermarket just across the street and down from my apartment. It is so neat when the staff see me and say 'hello'. They already know that I speak English, they also know that I bring my black "President Choice" cloth shopping bags to carry home my purchases (it is hard to leave that Toronto life style behind)

I bought a jar of stewed tomatoes to use with my tomato paste, and some sour cream. I'd bought some Mantee (a Kazakh meat dumpling) which L said tastes great with a little sour cream (boy was she right, I had a delightful lunch)

I also bought the green apple juice on Diane's recommendation, and I also bought a mayonnaise that looked flavourable. It is a delicious dill flavoured mayo. Hmm, now to find some nice fish  (Ya, I heard that yuck from here Diane )

Well, the sun is beginning to go down on another day. Tomorrow L and A go to court. I hope everything goes well for them.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cut off on the side

Thank you for all the good wishes. It is so helpful to know I have so much support.

I understand my blog is cutting off on the side. Diane is trying to figure out what is happening. And thanks so much to Diane for helping me to do my blog from here!!!!!

I see a little snow falling this morning, just the odd flake or so. It rained during the night and the parking lots behind the apartment buildings have a white coating of ice.

Don't know what I'll be doing today. L and A and I had made tentative plans, but all depend on the weather.

Last night I spent most of the evening catching up talking to friends using Skype. What a wonderful thing the internet and Skype are for telephone calls. I spoke to my brother for over an hour. Now he's posted on Facebook that maybe we will have to talk everyday so he can get a head's up on finding stuff around the house. LOL

Every night, I take a little time to look at the pictures I've taken during the day of MLM. I can't believe that I have the blessed opportunity to make this little guy my son. That I would be given such a gift. I know those of you reading who have been here before me know exactly what I mean. I'm praying like crazing that everything goes smoothly and I can bring MLM home with me soon. But I have maybe 5 more weeks before court, so plenty of time for being with him and for worrying!

Umm, must mention the yucky mess I made of my dinner last night. I found some beef meatballs at the supermarket on Friday, so I tried to make spaghetti and meatballs. Only I didn't buy a 525 L jar of tomato sauce but of tomato paste, even with water added it was too rich for my taste. And the meatballs I think were intended for soup making, so they were too tough for spaghetti. I made do with some left over tuna that I'd brought and peanut butter on bread.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Finally Connected to the World

After 5 days and 3 tries, I'm finally connected to the world through the internet.

I'm safe and sound in Uralsk. The flights were excellent and all three were actually early arriving in each destination. The food was wonderful on the flights, but I was SO tired all I really wanted to do was sleep, and I'm not the greatest at sleeping in sitting up, but I certainly worked at it.

I arrived on Monday of this week, just before noon. I was met by my coordinator here in Uralsk and my translator. They brought me to a really nice apartment and helped me do a little shopping to get me through the first 2 days.

I arrived to learn that Tuesday was a holiday, so I didn't get to go to the baby house. Instead I met up with L and A and their son M and we went to the park by the river to let M ride on the amusement park rides. It was a beautiful sunny day, and many people were out enjoying the sun. It was lovely to see L and A and catch up on news with them.

On Wednesday, at a very early time (7:30 a.m.) I was off to the baby house where I met him, my little man (I'll use MLM for him from now on). Oh, he's certainly trying to take my heart. I've had only 4 visits with him so far, but he certainly seems to be a very good match.

I'm still suffering from Jet Lag, and it is also hard to adjust to the sun rise/ sun set here in Uralsk, there really isn't any sun until almost 9 am and it is gone by 5, and I still have a month to go before the shortest day of the year.

Oh, but it is really nice to be connected to the world again.

Monday, November 8, 2010

PANIC - I'm leaving this weekend

I've had my LOI since early September, but it was just confirmed this morning that I'm leaving this weekend as I need to be in Kazakhstan next week.


I am mostly ready, it is just the final packing and stuff to do. I'm still shaking. It is finally happening.

Diane, who is in Kazakhstan bonding with her lovely daughter (Mr. Baby) will be arriving home this weekend, we will literally pass at the airport.

I cannot express how excited I am!!!!